Today’s parable teaches us two lessons. First, actions speak louder than words. The first son defied his father’s request to go and work in the family vineyard – a very disrespectful response, in a culture where a father would demand absolute respect from his children. But the young man thought better of it afterwards, and went to work. The second son made the right noises, but he did not go to the vineyard. When Jesus told this parable to the chief priests and elders of the people, he was challenging them. Those religious leaders believed that they were living a good and holy life. They were looked up to by the people. But Jesus saw that their hearts were closed. They had rejected the call to conversion made by John the Baptist, and they would reject Jesus, too.
This points us to the second lesson of the parable. Those who came to John for baptism were people of low status – tax collectors and prostitutes – those who were despised as ‘sinners.’ They were ready to change their lives in response to John’s preaching – they had nothing to lose. The same people flocked to Jesus, drawn by his promise of forgiveness for their sins. The chief priests and elders, however, didn’t want to be seen in such company. They were too attached to their position of respect and importance; they could not recognise their own need for repentance.
The Church founded by Christ is for everyone. There is no room for snobbery or for judging others; instead, the Lord calls us to look into our own hearts and repent of our sins. The parable prompts us to ask who we might be tempted to look down on, and what might be blocking our way into the kingdom of God.
Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to steward or to clean the church. In order to increase the number of public Masses, we need more volunteers. If you would like to help, and can do so safely, please get in touch by telephone or email.
Congratulations to Jerome and Jonathan, who were received into full communion with the Catholic Church last Sunday, and to Julia, who received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Please pray for Jacqui, who will be baptised today, and for Christina, who will be Confirmed.
Please pray for David Jonathon Bowes, who will be ordained a priest for our diocese by Bishop Robert Byrne CO on Saturday 3rd October at 11.00am, at St. Joseph’s Church, Hartlepool. The Ordination Mass will be live streamed – see www.rchdn.org.uk for details.
CAFOD Harvest Fast Day is on Friday 9th October. Details of online events, and how you can help, at www.cafod.org.uk
Thank you to everyone who has donated towards the cost of live streaming equipment at St Cuthbert’s. We will be taking steps to acquire and install the equipment soon.
St Godrics’s Church has Mass at 9:00am on Sunday 27 September and Sunday 4 October; Exposition at 9:30am and Mass at 10:00am on Tuesday 29 September and Thursday 1 October.
St Joseph’s Church has Mass at 5:00pm on Saturday 26 September and 3 October; 11:00am on Sunday 27 September and 4 October; Exposition at 9:30am and Mass at 10:00am on Wednesday 30 September and Friday 2 October.
For Saturday and Sunday Masses, the deadline for requesting a place at Mass is 2.00pm on Friday, to book a place please contact Marjorie on 07391529827 or firstname.lastname@example.org You no longer need to book a place at the weekday Masses, but will have to give your contact details to the stewards on arrival.
The University Hospital of North Durham still has restrictions in place regarding visits to patients – see the hospital website for the latest information. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and can bring them Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of a patient who wishes for a visit from the Catholic Hospital Chaplain, please inform Fr Paul Tully on 01388 818544 or email@example.com
For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.
£700 was raised, and has been sent to the Adhanur Helping Hands orphanage. Thank you for your generosity. Ms Flora Maria Goretti, the Director, writes: ‘We are very grateful and appreciate your timely support.’
If you are interested in being baptised as a Christian; if you are a member of another Christian church and are considering being received into full communion with the Catholic Church; or if you are a Catholic and wish to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, then the Journey in Faith programme is for you. Details of this year’s programme will be announced soon.
English Convents in Catholic Europe c.1600-1800. Wednesday 7th October, 5.30-6.45pm, by Zoom. An online discussion featuring: James Kelly, Sweeting Fellow in the History of Catholicism, Durham; Caroline Bowden, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in History at Queen Mary, University of London; John McCafferty, Professor of History at University College Dublin. To take part, register at https://centreforcatholicstudies.eventbrite.com For details of other launches in the series, see www.centreforcatholicstudies.co.uk
A number of qualified counsellors and listeners have generously made themselves available to anyone who may be troubled by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. These counsellors and listeners can be contacted through the St Mary’s Cathedral Listening Service on 0191 232 6953 and the Northumberland Listening Service on 07732 980740.
Chapels and Exhibitions are re-opening for visitors. Entry must be pre-booked. Details at https://www.ushaw.org/
The Season of Creation runs from 1 September (World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation) to 4 October (the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi) each year. This ecumenical season is dedicated to prayer and action for the protection of creation. It is a time to renew our relationships with God our Creator, and with all creation, as we join together in prayer. We give thanks for all that God has made, repent for the damage that we have caused and commit ourselves to take action to protect the earth our common home. Details and resources at www.cafod.org.uk
Gratitude, Prophecy & Hope: A retreat led by the Minsteracres team. 2020 has presented all of us with new experiences and opportunities to reflect on our lives. During this retreat we reflect on our encounters with gratitude, prophecy and hope. With reference to the lives of some of the Passionist saints, we will explore where these perennial themes have been and are present in our lives. Friday 2-Sunday 4 October. Suggested donation: £140
Today’s Gospel parable shocks us. We are attached to the idea that we should get what we deserve. Those who work harder should be better paid. It seems obvious – to human thinking.
Jesus’ teaching shows us a difference between God’s ways and our ways. One denarius was a day’s wage for a worker – a living wage, we might say. So, if the vineyard owner had paid the late arrivals less than a denarius, they and their families might go hungry that day. Instead, the landowner pays each worker enough to get by, and gives each one the dignity of earning their daily bread. But it seems unfair to those who have done a full day’s work in all the heat. Why should others receive the same wage for just one hour’s work? The landowner replies, ‘Why be envious because I am generous?’
The parable teaches us that, when we stand before God, we are not like workers, demanding our just wages. Before God, we always stand as beggars. We can never earn our place in the kingdom of heaven; we can only hope for God’s mercy. Salvation is always God’s gift. Once we understand this, there is no room for jealousy or resentment over God’s gifts to others. We can only receive with gratitude what God gives us.
Please pray for Jerome and Jonathan, who will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church on Sunday, and for Julia, who will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Diocese of Middlesbrough has set up a system to allow people who do not have internet access to listen to Mass over the telephone. This service can be accessed by calling 01642 130120.
The September edition of our diocesan newspaper is now available, online only, at www.northerncross.org.uk The Northern Cross is facing significant financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – please consider supporting the paper by taking out an online or print subscription, via the website or by post: Subscriptions Dept, Northern Cross, c/o WM Fortune & Son, Collingwood House, Church Square, Hartlepool, TS24 7EN.